An encounter with experimental, elemental oozes running rampant through an ancient ritual room, with stat blocks for use in D&D 5E.
Baltazar Bridgers used to live a comfortable life as a wizard in service to an affluent, if largely powerless, noble. He had space to himself, time to conduct whatever research he wished, and only occasionally needed to fulfill requisitions and provide magical assistance to his employer. But Baltazar squandered this life. His experiments consumed more and more of his time until he neglected his work entirely in favor of them. Word also spread, whispered rumors of the noble’s mage being passed around town, discussing the odd truth behind his growing reclusiveness: Baltazar Bridgers is obsessed with oozes.
Increasingly shunned and sensing the impending end of his employment, Baltazar packed his research and fled. He journeyed to an isolated section of desert where he knew there to be a set of ruined structures that included an intact tower in need of only minor renovations. Since then, Baltazar’s time has been dedicated to experimentation. He no longer ventures into the outside world nor personally interacts with other people. His only contact has been correspondence with other experts in the field, with whom he has shared carefully encoded notes of his research, such as recipes for alchemical tonics that can spawn oozes. Baltazar spends every other waking moment attempting to create, refine, and evolve his slimy pets. His successes have been limited, though recent developments may indicate a breakthrough.
Not several days ago, a blinding light shone from Baltazar’s tower, witnessed by travelers and shepherds of the nearest town. This has raised enough concern for the residents to dispatch hired adventurers to investigate and ensure that the tower remains unthreatening to them.
The situation in the tower is contained but dire. Baltazar was testing the limits of an ooze designed to absorb and contain magical energy when the ooze became unstable, exploding with magic that poured into the tower’s basement, where it found many of Baltazar’s less successful subjects. These failed experiments now roam the laboratory, destroying Baltazar’s equipment and threatening to escape if not dealt with.
A human man appears wearing burnt orange robes and a white cloak. He scratches at his faded, receding hair as his expression twists questioningly in response to his visitors. With a flash of shock and recognition, he wipes away a layer of sweat, straightens his posture and clothing, and attempts a welcoming smile.
Baltazar is a middle-aged human wizard whose recent sleeplessness and seclusion have made him look older than he is. It has also exaggerated his eccentricities, with the recent peril seeing Baltazar now scampering erratically throughout the upper tower, repairing the damage from the blast and recreating what was lost. He is not opposed to any company that may arrive to help, though his awkward lack of eye contact and reticence to discuss his work in fear of further judgment does hamper whatever hospitality Baltazar attempts to show.
If questioned about the situation, Baltazar nervously reveals the details of the incident and its results. He attempts to convey confidence in his research and downplays the current dilemma as an unfortunate but acceptable side effect. Baltazar does, however, agree that the oozes in the ritual room must be destroyed. He sheepishly admits that he is too personally invested in them to do it himself, saying, “I am their creator. I could not bring myself to look at them, and they at me, as they die.”
Should the conversation include the possible abilities of the oozes, Baltazar explains his experiments in creating variants whose bodies are at extreme temperatures, as well as a prototype of the ooze that created the explosion. He offhandedly mentions another that he had attempted to give greater intelligence, though he disregards it as an issue. Baltazar does add that he would gladly compensate the party if they were to take notes on the oozes’ capabilities as they fight them.
The Ancient Desert Ritual Room
You appear in an arched, sandstone room that is rectangular in shape but closes in a raised semicircle at the far end. This elevated level extends toward you with a triangular platform that oversees a lowered section near the chamber’s center. Within this is another circular indentation that is stained with a coating of questionable red and brown. The edges of the room are similarly disconcerting, lined with wooden desks supporting clusters of candles and scattered notes and scrolls, and with six table-like stone slabs half-inserted into recesses in the walls. The chamber is illuminated by four braziers that crackle with green fire and yet produce no smoke, leaving the air deathly still and smelling of only must and faint acidity.
The lowest basement of Baltazar’s tower once functioned as a ritual room for an unknown, but most certainly morally dubious, sect. Baltazar, undeterred by the room’s disturbing remnants, chose it as a laboratory for his most dangerous experiments. Its confined, subterranean location and singular access point through a teleportation platform at the end of the room make it ideal for containing any mishaps. This has proven the case with the recently awoken oozes. They have laid waste to much of Baltazar’s tools and research notes in the chamber. If left unattended, they may even manage to escape the room, if not destroy the structure itself.
Ceilings. The ritual room’s walls are 10 feet tall, from which the ceiling arches to 20 feet high at the center.
Light. Two braziers are set on either side of the room; one in the center and one on the raised level. Each brazier holds a green-tinged flame conjured by the continual flame spell. Each of these flames produces bright light in a 20-foot radius and dim light for an additional 20 feet. The areas of the room that are not lit by these flames are filled with dim light from the many burning candles.
Teleportation platform. The only entrance to the room is a teleportation platform that connects to an identical platform within Baltazar’s tower. The platform is set on a raised level on the opposite side of the room to the braziers and other raised section. If a creature stands within the etched circle on either teleportation platform and speaks its command word, all creatures within the circle are instantly teleported to the other circle.
Map & Asset Downloads
Baltazar’s basement is based on our very own Ancient Desert Ritual Room battle map, which includes its braziers, teleportation platform, and Baltazar’s many scrolls and notes. It is also designed with our Ancient Desert Catacomb and Ancient Desert Temple in mind, which you can use for the ruins surrounding Baltazar’s tower. Need a map for the very tower? We have options for that too…
Wizard’s TowerPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Crumbling Desert TombPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Ancient Desert TemplePWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Ancient Desert CatacombPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Ancient Desert Ritual RoomPWYW: $1 or FREE $1.00
Ancient Desert Ritual Room Pack$5.00
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A series of mishaps in Baltazar’s experimentation has led to a small legion of oozes being spawned in his laboratory. These oozes were borne from failed prototypes and had access to all sorts of magical and alchemical paraphernalia as they formed, which they eagerly absorbed, accelerating their intended mutations. They now mindlessly wander the basement room destroying what little remains of Baltazar’s research and belongings with their volatile, elemental abilities.
Bubbles of red-hot lava rise and burst from the molten ooze, venting waves of searing air from between stone plates. These bubbles send tiny embers leaping off it, briefly catching alight, while the scorching heat burns, melts, and withers nearby material.
The magma jelly is an ooze of heat so extreme that it has melted stone to lava and absorbed it into its form. This heat continues to damage everything around the jelly and is particularly dangerous for living creatures, which can find themselves burning simply by making contact with the ooze. The ooze can also split and spread, just like the fire it embodies, allowing its heat to quickly grow out of control.
A blob of soft blue slime is coated in a layer of creeping frost that undulates, continuously thawing and refreezing. It crackles like shifting snow and ice as the ooze move and leaves behind a trail of thin mist.
In perfect contrast to the magma jelly is the freezing ooze, or ‘frooze’, as Baltazar affectionately refers to it. The freezing ooze’s body is of such a low temperature that it drains the warmth from its surroundings, is protected by a coating of ice, and can freeze its targets solid. While this may be less destructive than lava, it is no less deadly for anyone in the ooze’s path.
The center of a clear slime holds a ball of energy that sparks out with electric tendrils. They extend to the ooze’s surface, reaching towards anything that touches it with muffled crackling and glowing with beads of light against the glassy exterior.
Having absorbed a veritable storm’s worth of electricity, an otherwise harmless ooze was transformed into a plasma jelly. The jelly holds this energy within itself, lashing out with arcs of lightning to attack its foes. This electricity becomes especially lethal in enclosed spaces, where it is able to chain to additional targets. The situation only worsens when near oozes that the plasma jelly’s lightning can split, including the jelly itself.
A cube of slime jitters and vibrates, leaving behind softly glowing afterimages with every movement. Through these blurred reflections, you can see that the ooze is otherwise clear but gives off a faint turquoise luminescence.
The arcane cube is a prism of ooze that brims with unstable arcane energy. This overflowing magic spills out in erratic effects that even the cube has little control over. It may teleport, pulse with an implosion wave, or enhance its own defensive or offensive capabilities. The arcane cube can even briefly distort time, causing a delayed, compounded burst of these same abilities. While the ooze may have no choice in the effects of its magic, its randomness makes it a dangerously unpredictable combatant.
A mound of dull pink ooze slides forward slowly, its surface bristling like skin in the cold. The slime briefly stops, pauses, then contracts and wrinkles, the air around it being disrupted by an aura of invisible distortion.
In an attempt to create an ooze with intelligence equaling, or potentially surpassing, a person, Baltazar ended up with the psychic slime. Unfortunately, this preceded Baltazar’s revelation of giving the slime a method of effective communication. This experiment did, however, show some minor results which have now been exaggerated by the arcane explosion. The psychic slime displays increased mental fortitude and a curious array of psychic abilities, including limited telekinesis and a method of disrupting a target’s mental faculties.
Balancing the Oozes
Aside from choosing an appropriate number of creatures for your party, there are only two key considerations when selecting the oozes for them to face: the oozes’ ability to debilitate the characters, and their ability to split.
The confined space and single entry point of the ritual room can make it more difficult for the characters to escape the attacks of the oozes despite the latter’s slow speed. Debilitating effects such as the freezing ooze’s movement reduction and psychic slime’s Psychic Shock exacerbate this by making the party easier to hit and slowing their ability to fight back. These effects increase the deadliness of all enemies in the encounter.
The Split reaction of the magma jelly and plasma jelly should also be considered, as their ability to multiply can quickly reduce the amount of safe space within the room. Fortunately, this is a challenge that the characters are able to actively deal with. You should still use them sparingly, however, as Heated Body and Arcing Bolt are especially dangerous as the oozes’ numbers increase.
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I love these encounters and maps! Is there a reason you don’t include a recommended party level? It would make it easier to use the content.